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Wednesday, September 6th, 2017.
By Ann Lovell
RICHMOND, Virginia—Never underestimate the strength of a senior. Five LifeSpire of Virginia residents — ranging in age from 70 to 80 — will bike the Virginia Capital trail Sept. 28. The event for LifeSpire residents, staff, trustees and families will highlight Active Aging Week and raise awareness of the mission of Virginia Baptist Homes Foundation, said Patricia Morris, a LifeSpire vice president and head of the VBH Foundation. The ride offers starting points at mile posts 42, 27 or 20, and the group of 17 riders will finish in Jamestown at mile post 0.
The International Council on Aging designated the last full week in September as Active Aging Week beginning in 2003. Held this year from Sept. 24-30, Active Aging Week celebrates aging and showcases the capability of older adults. Through the bike event, LifeSpire of Virginia is linking senior wellness with the opportunity to support those who outlive their financial resources, Morris said.
“Last year, VBH Foundation gave more than $1.1 million to 59 life care residents across all four LifeSpire communities. Thanks to the support of our donors, no life care resident has ever been asked to leave a community because they ran out of money,” Morris said. “The support of our foundation provides LifeSpire’s residents the peace of mind that allows them to flourish.”
Riders may start from mile post 42 or 27 at 11 a.m. or at mile post 20 at 12:30 p.m. Riders are expected to finish around 3 p.m. at mile post 0 in Jamestown. The Cap Trail shuttle is providing free shuttle service to event participants.
RICHMOND, Virginia—Joe Kelley is a stereotypical accountant. A quiet guy with a dry sense of humor, you’ll most often find Kelley sitting quietly at his desk in his corner office surrounded by mounds of paperwork.
As LifeSpire of Virginia’s Chief Financial Officer, Kelley spends his work days analyzing the financial situation of LifeSpire’s four continuing care retirement communities. For financial reporting purposes, Kelley explains, LifeSpire’s Lakewood in Richmond, The Chesapeake in Newport News and The Culpeper in Culpeper make up what’s known as “the obligated group.” The Glebe in Daleville is a separate financial entity.
Although he’s always up for a good laugh, co-workers say Kelley rarely gets excited. When he’s happy, those closest to him notice a slight smile and a twinkle in his eye. Based on the consolidated financial statements released in LifeSpire’s 2016 Annual Report, Kelley’s smile is broader than usual — for very good reasons.
“For the first time in nearly 20 years, LifeSpire posted a net operating gain in 2016,” Kelley reports.
UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS
Kelley gets particularly excited about debt service coverage ratios. The debt service coverage ratio compares debt payments to adjusted net operating income, Kelley explains. Anything over 1 means a company has enough cash to cover its debts. Generally, banks require a debt service coverage ratio of at least 1.2. The higher the ratio, the stronger the organization is financially.
“Our debt service ratio for the obligated group is 2.09 and for The Glebe it’s 2.11. That’s amazing considering where we were just a few years ago,” Kelley says.
Jonathan Cook, LifeSpire’s president and CEO, also appreciates the significance of these numbers.
“A few years ago, it was very common for the financial benchmarks in each of our communities to hover around debt compliance levels,” Cook says. “Thanks to the hard work of staff in each of our communities, we now have the opportunity to build some reserves to sustain us in the event of future economic downturns.”
Kelley has a number of charts that accompany his presentations on LifeSpire’s financial position. One of them highlights the downward slide of operating income that began with a $1 million loss in 2000 and bottomed out with a $9 million loss in 2007 at the start of the global financial crisis.
“If I had looked at the financials when I came to work here, I might not have come,” Kelley jokes. “The auditors thought we were going out of business; we received ‘going concern’ audit opinions from 2008 through 2011.”
A number of factors contributed to the financial difficulties of VBH: the development and startup losses at The Glebe, the recession and capital market collapse in 2008 and 2009 and The Glebe’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, Kelley says. These factors impacted all VBH communities.
“Because of the organizational distraction and the costs associated with the bankruptcy, VBH was unable to adequately reinvest in our communities the way we wanted to,” Kelley says.
But the problems actually began two decades before the economic downturn of the 2000s, says Cook, who recently discovered a 1980s-era letter from then-VBH board chair, Hunter Riggins. Titled “Facing the 80s: Problems and Solutions,” the letter begins, “Virginia Baptist Homes, Inc., faces the greatest challenge it has ever faced in the decade of the 80s. This challenge is at or nearing crisis proportions. The challenge facing the Homes is how to put the overall operation on a firm financial foundation and at the same time maintain current operations and continue the substantial work done in the past and the present for elderly Virginia Baptists.”
“In reality, the organization had been struggling for years before 1999 because we focused more on the spiritual and mission components of our business and less on fiscal stewardship,” Cook says.
LifeSpire board chair Susan Rucker defines it as a “downward spiral.”
As a result of the flagging economy, “losses had begun and were accelerating,” says Rucker, who joined the LifeSpire board in 2014. “One or two years of losses are not a disaster, but you don’t want to get in a position where you can’t recover.”
Fortunately, both the board and senior leadership realized the organization’s dire predicament and took steps to reverse the trends. “Sustainability became the board’s goal,” Rucker says.
REVERSING THE TRENDS
The reversal began in early 2008 when, in response to The Glebe’s escalating difficulties, an external management firm came in to oversee operations.
“The management company provided the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer and other operational expertise,” Kelley says. “They brought a level of proficiency VBH didn’t have in-house at the time.”
Specifically, this management expertise helped VBH communities receive Medicare certification, adding “$4 to $5 million in annual reimbursements for services we were already providing,” Kelley says. “This coupled with economic recovery was the turning point.”
VBH utilized the company’s services for about three years and then moved to hire the talent they needed, Kelley says. In 2014 the board hired Cook, and the steepest recovery began then.
“We understood the next CEO had to have financial acumen,” Rucker says. “Part of the job was getting the communities on track to be profitable and sustainable.”
But, financial stability is more than just “good business,” Rucker stresses.
“Being financially stable positions us to live up to our commitment to our seniors. When we are financially stable, we are able to try new things and invest in new ventures and new technology. We want to help seniors age where they want to age and continue to look at ways to serve seniors outside the walls of our CCRCs,” Rucker says.
A PROMISING FUTURE
Rucker says LifeSpire’s current situation is “night and day” different, and the future is very promising, thanks in large part to the commitment of staff at each community. Sustainability can’t be achieved “by senior management alone.”
Cook agrees, “Our goal is to provide lifestyle-based services with hospitality, dining and wellness as the focal points,” noting this vision relies on the full buy-in of staff at every level.
“We want to build on being a place where people want to come,” Rucker says. “Over the next five years, we envision significantly refreshing our physical plant, offering new programs and finding other ways to serve the market that are relevant to seniors.”
Kelley and Cook share Rucker’s vision and enthusiasm for the future.
“LifeSpire has been transformed,” Kelley says. “We are actively engaged in becoming one of the premier mid-sized senior living companies in the mid-Atlantic region, financially and operationally. The groundwork we have been laying recently will enable LifeSpire to meet its commitments to current and future residents for many years to come.”
Cook agrees, adding, “If these trends hold, and I have every reason to believe they will, we may even hear Joe start to whistle.”
Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (804) 521-9192.
LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.
This entry was posted on
Wednesday, October 5th, 2016.
By Ann Lovell
Since 2003, the International Council on Active Aging has promoted Active Aging Week during the last week of September. LifeSpire residents in each of its four communities participated in a variety of activities, Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, including walking tours, aquatic exercise, glow-in-the-dark games, Segway outings, drum circles, and mystery walks.
NuStep Marathon: Forty-three residents participated in The Glebe’s NuStep marathon. Each signed up for a 30-minute time slot on a NuStep machine, keeping two NuSteps occupied continuously for about 11 hours! A few residents who had never tried the NuStep joined a team, prompting Rachel Carson, The Glebe’s wellness coordinator, to proclaim the NuStep marathon the “biggest success” of this year’s Active Aging Week.
Lakewood’s drum circle: This interactive event allowed Lakewood residents to enjoy making music while reaping the health benefits of ensemble drumming. While research suggests learning any new skill diminishes and even prevents senile dementia, the physical act of drumming has additional advantages, including improved circulation and loosening stiff joints in the shoulders, arms, and hands.
Research shows that an active lifestyle lessens the challenges and increases the opportunities associated with aging. In addition to celebrating Active Aging Week, LifeSpire seeks to provide an environment within its four communities that offers aging adults programs, guidance, and support for healthy aging — all year long.
Bob Hill, a resident at The Culpeper, is one example of a LifeSpire resident committed to wellness. Hill stays fit by running three times a week, and his fitness goals give him the strength, energy and stamina to volunteer with a number of humanitarian organizations. In the past, Hill’s volunteerism led him to North Africa where he helped build dams, repair schools, and mentor the children of female prisoners who lived in the prison with their mothers. He has also served the needs of low-income people through World Changers in Norfolk by inspecting homes and offering needed repairs to make the homes safer, warmer and drier.
Jesse Hughes, a resident of The Chesapeake, is another example of LifeSpire wellness. Hughes participated in the Virginia Senior Games May 17 – 21 with more than 2,100 participants. Hughes won a gold medal in basketball and three silver medals in the 50-yard run, 25-meter backstroke, and the broad jump. Since moving to The Chesapeake, Hughes has made sure to keep his body in top shape by participating in the many wellness programs the community offers.
LifeSpire owns and operates four continuing care retirement communities serving approximately 1,200 residents throughout Virginia: The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville, The Chesapeake in Newport News, and Lakewood in Richmond.
Each LifeSpire community provides a full continuum of care to address the changing health needs of seniors. Readily accessible assisted living, 24-hour nursing care, physical therapy and memory support services combined with a focus on exceptional dining, wellness and hospitality are hallmarks of each LifeSpire community. For more information, contact one of our marketing professionals at the community nearest you:
Rose Wallace, The Culpeper in Culpeper, 540-825-2411
Helen Burnett, The Glebe in Daleville, 540-591-2100
Liz Gee, The Chesapeake in Newport News, 757-223-1600
Donna Buhrman, Lakewood in Richmond, 804-740-2900
Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. For more information, contact her at email@example.com or (804) 521-9192.
RICHMOND, Virginia—Helen Wood wears a Fitbit. She doesn’t always reach 10,000 steps a day, she says, but she tries to go over 5,000. Wood, a resident of Lakewood in Richmond’s West End, recently attended her 60th college reunion at the University of Richmond. She is a member of Virginia Baptist Women in Ministry and also serves on numerous boards, including the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.
“The key to successful attitudes about aging is to find hobbies and interests beyond your work,” Wood says. “I have many outside interests, but all are within my faith sphere.”
Faith matters to Wood, and for many senior adults like her, the interplay of faith, community and wellness — LifeSpire’s core values — often yields positive results. In fact, a 2010 study on spirituality and aging concludes that faith and religious participation are as important as diet, exercise and social connectedness to successful aging, leading not only to longevity but also to higher satisfaction and a better quality of life.
Tom Crittenden, a resident of The Chesapeake in Newport News, agrees.
“My faith is nourished through my church activities and service on (The Chesapeake’s) worship and spiritual life committee,” Crittenden says. “We are one big family here. … By staying busy in church, overall, I have a better life.”
FAITH DOESN’T CHANGE
But faith is nothing new to Crittenden and Wood. Both say that faith has been an important part of their lives since they were children.
Crittenden grew up Methodist. His mother died a day after Crittenden was born, and his uncle and aunt, whom he describes as “good Christian folks,” adopted him.
“Church was a part of life,” Crittenden says. “My mother taught Sunday school, and I was baptized in the Methodist church.”
Likewise, Wood’s faith has been vital to her throughout her life. “I grew up in faith,” Wood says. “I had Christian parents and grandparents. As a pre-teen, I felt that there was something special I should be doing, and God opened doors for me.”
After college, seminary and marriage, Wood and her husband, Rudy who died in 2008, served 15 years in Europe as international missionaries through the then-Foreign Mission Board (FMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (now IMB). Later Wood served on staff at the FMB mobilizing college students for a variety of international mission opportunities. She also worked with the Virginia Woman’s Missionary Union.
“My faith hasn’t changed over the years,” Wood explains. “It’s who I am. I try to live my life not out of obligation but out of gratitude.”
Julie Walton, who along with Louise Mason serves as chaplain at Lakewood, agrees that faith is life-long. “Faith is important to us for all of our lives,” Walton says. “Faith doesn’t change. It gives meaning and hope in difficult circumstances.”
“Faith takes over when there are no more answers,” says Gerald Carter, chaplain at The Glebe in Daleville. “It’s a belief that the triune God is active in our lives every day.”
“Faith equips us to deal with life’s difficulties such as loss, fear and illness,” says Nancy Hayes, chaplain at The Chesapeake. “Some of the things happening to (our residents) are a slippery slope. Walking through these issues together helps us support, comfort, and encourage one another.”
GOD’S LOVE LIVED OUT
From its beginnings, LifeSpire of Virginia (formerly Virginia Baptist Homes) has been an organization rooted in the Christian faith and centered in Jesus Christ. “Love God and love people,” Jesus told his disciples. “These are the greatest commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40, paraphrased). LifeSpire seeks to promote an organizational culture where God’s love is lived-out among residents, families and staff.
This faith-based distinction is a difference you can feel, says Mason. “The atmosphere here is genuine. People live it,” Mason says. “Nobody here needs to be reminded, and the staff embodies it as much as the residents.”
Carter agrees, “God lives in this place in a special way.”
For Hayes, the faith-based distinction also means welcoming those from a variety of different backgrounds. “We work hard to accept people who have different faith perspectives,” Hayes says. “We focus on what binds us together, rather than what separates us.”
Hayes, who encourages residents to stay active in their local churches, also offers an ecumenical worship service Sunday afternoons. Crittenden, for example, attends his Methodist church Sunday mornings, where he has served as a trustee and is active in the Methodist men’s group. Then, on Sunday afternoons, he helps set up the sound system for the 3 p.m. ecumenical service at The Chesapeake.
“Some of our residents can’t get out Sundays, so they meet with us at 3 p.m.,” Crittenden explains. “We usually have between 65 and 100 people for Sunday afternoon worship.”
WHEN MEMORY FAILS
While participation in faith-based activities helps provide active seniors with a sense of purpose and well-being, faith is also important to seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Mason explains. She recalls an instance when she worked on a psychiatric ward early in her career.
“One of the patients had written his own gospel hymns,” Mason says. “He had difficulty communicating, but he sat down at a piano in a commons area and began to play and sing those old hymns. People came out of their rooms to listen. It was a holy moment.”
While dementia and Alzheimer’s disease rob a person of short-term memory, a deeply rooted faith can continue to thrive even as memories fade, Mason says.
“Memory care residents who may not know what day it is can recall a particular church experience from their childhood,” Mason says.
Walton agrees, “Faith taps into a really deep part of you. It transcends day-to-day living.”
Faith also removes anxiety about the future, says Wood, who believes in an afterlife.
“I couldn’t begin to list all the miracles in my life, but they are proof to me that God cares about us individually,” Wood says.
“Today is a gift, and there’s no promise for tomorrow,” she continues. “I’m in God’s hands, and I feel very confident about that.”
Ann Lovell is corporate director of communications at LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. She can be reached at (804) 521-9192 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This entry was posted on
Thursday, April 21st, 2016.
By Ann Lovell
RICHMOND, Virginia—Long-term care: It’s a topic most Americans know they should talk about but might rather not. Questions such as: “Who will take care of me?” “What level of health care can I afford?” and “Who will take care of my spouse?” are issues that should be addressed well before significant health concerns arise.
These discussions become even more essential as the U.S. population ages. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be 65 or older by 2030. The Wall Street Journal reported in a May 1, 2015, article that more than two-thirds of individuals age 65 and older will require some type of long-term care. Yet, while a 2013 national survey found that 90 percent of Americans believed it was important to have end-of-life care discussions with their families, less than 30 percent had actually done so.
It’s time to have the discussion — and a good place to start is by understanding Life Care.
In its simplest terms, Life Care means residency in an apartment or cottage along with comprehensive health care services and amenities. Most Life Care communities — and all LifeSpire of Virginia communities —provide independent living, assisted living and full-time nursing care in one location. As a result, residents have the security of knowing that short- and/or long-term health care needs will be met on-site with no substantial increases in cost. Often referred to as an “all-inclusive plan,” Life Care acts as a safety net against the future high costs of long-term care.
Phases of Life Care
Independent Living: Life Care begins with independent living, emphasizing wellness and encouraging residents to maintain good health for an active and independent lifestyle. In LifeSpire communities, this means a spacious cottage or apartment with a wide array of on-site amenities including a health clinic, physical therapy, fitness center, regular health checks and other activities and programs. However, Life Care goes beyond independent living. In LifeSpire communities, residents also have access to assisted living and nursing care around the clock. As a result, residents are never far from their spouse or friends while they receive the additional services they need.
Assisted Living: Assisted living is an “in-between” residential service for those who are independent but need some assistance with the activities of daily living. In LifeSpire communities, residents receive personal care support and services such as meals, medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation.
Nursing Care: In many cases, nursing care is required only briefly, such as after a hospital stay. In those cases, the emphasis is on helping residents rehabilitate and recuperate as quickly as possible so they can return to their apartment or cottage. In other cases, a condition might be chronic or progressive, requiring a longer stay in the Health Services Center.
The benefits of Life Care
Steady long-term care costs: No matter how long a stay is required in assisted living or nursing care, Life Care provides residents the services they need on-site for as long as necessary. Beyond the regular monthly fees paid for an apartment or cottage residence, the only additional costs for assisted living and/or nursing care cover two additional daily meals and ancillary charges, such as medical supplies and pharmacy. This arrangement helps protect a resident’s estate by keeping health care costs steady even as health needs increase.
Tax benefits: The Internal Revenue Service considers a portion of the entrance fee paid the year a resident moves in and monthly fees paid each year of residency as “pre-paid medical expenses.” As such, a resident may add part of those fees as itemized health care costs for possible income tax deductions. The portion of the fees used in this manner varies by community and from year to year. Contact a tax adviser for more information.
Affordability: The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that the median annual cost for a private nursing home is $91,250, and 24-hour care can reach $170,000, according to a study from Genworth Financial. Life Care in a LifeSpire community is much more affordable. For example, the industry average in Virginia for one year of nursing home care for a single person is a little more than $100,000. Factoring in the additional cost of home maintenance, home health care may reach as much as $200,000. However, with a Life Care contract in a LifeSpire community, a resident’s monthly fee of approximately $50,000 does not increase as additional nursing care is required.
Quality of Life: According to a 1997 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who live in continuing care retirement communities generally live longer than those who stay in their homes. CCRCs also reduce the risk of disease and disability and improve the health of their residents. By combining a variety of services that affect overall wellness of residents, including activities and sports facilities, LifeSpire CCRCs encourage seniors to take responsibility for maintaining their personal health.
Life Care allows seniors in LifeSpire communities to take control of their future and proactively choose where and with whom they will live while receiving the care they may need. This provides peace of mind and the opportunity to spare loved ones from the stress of making a difficult decision in a time of crisis.
By selecting a Life Care community with a reputation for exceptional care — like one of the four LifeSpire communities — residents can be certain that if care is needed the best will be available.
Call or email us to schedule a tour of one of our four LifeSpire communities:
This entry was posted on
Tuesday, March 8th, 2016.
March 8, 2016
By Ann Lovell
RICHMOND, Va.— Anyone who knew her will tell you Catherine Walker was a legend. A longtime Lakewood resident, Walker died Jan. 7 at age 100. She was honored in a memorial service at Lakewood Feb. 13.
“Small in stature but big in influence and heart,” Walker influenced generations as a mentor and teacher, “but her accolades pale in comparison to her humble faith — the way she went about loving God and loving people,” said her pastor, Jeff Raymond of Derbyshire Baptist Church in Richmond.
Walker, a Georgia native, first went to China as a Southern Baptist missionary in 1946, before communist rule forced Western missionaries out, reported Erich Bridges in a Jan. 11 Baptist Press article.
“She stayed as long as she could — and longer than many dared — before moving on to Indonesia,” Bridges wrote. “She became one of the first faculty members of the infant Indonesian Baptist Theological Seminary in Semarang, which she helped start in 1954.”
In late 1980, Walker retired from IMB, and three months later, she joined the mission board’s home office staff to focus on mobilizing Southern Baptists to pray more strategically for missions, Bridges reported. Until her second retirement in 1985, she led the new office of IMB prayer strategy as special assistant to the president for intercessory prayer.
Retirement didn’t slow Walker down, however, and her impact during her years at Lakewood was remarkable, Raymond said.
“Hers was a ministry of presence,” Raymond said. “Even though she didn’t always lead — it was intimidating to teach someone of her (spiritual) stature — she was always humble, always an encourager.”
Carolyn Briggs, a Lakewood resident who is also Walker’s cousin, remembered Walker as playful and marked by trust and gratitude. Although Walker could barely see or hear in her last couple of years, “she could love you without the details,” Briggs said. “She would turn smiling into her encounters with people.”
As Walker aged, her frailty distressed her, Briggs said, but she “discovered abundance, even in her frailty.”
“She knew she was loved by the Lord, and she remained concerned that people hear the gospel,” Briggs said.
Trust and concern for others, Bridges reported, were lessons Walker learned early.
“When a much younger Walker arrived in China after World War II, the missionary era there was drawing to a close as the communist era was just beginning,” Bridges wrote. “The day came when the American government warned all Americans in the Shanghai area that the last evacuation ship would leave soon. Walker packed her bag and headed for the port, but something stopped her.”
“It occurred to me that I had never really prayed about whether it was God’s will for me to go,” Walker later reflected. “So I stopped and prayed, asking Him if I was supposed to get on that ship. To my surprise, I felt a very strong impression that I was not supposed to go. So I turned around and went back to the campus.”
Marge Worten, who served with Walker in Indonesia, later recalled that the following year was “one of the most blessed in (Walker’s) life. During that time the [Chinese] seminary experienced a deep revival among the staff and students. … Catherine later saw it as a preparation for what was to come in China. The presence of God was palpable; the unity of heart, spirit and love was incredible. … When a ‘post-final’ opportunity to leave China came, the Lord clearly told Catherine to go. She followed His voice. But she left with the blessings of that year as a part of who she was.”
Walker’s trust in and obedience to God were hallmarks of her life, which was also characterized by a deep commitment to prayer.
“I never would hold up my prayer life as a model,” she said at one time. “But I’m not concerned about my capabilities. I’ve found God uses a person as he is.”
For these reasons and many others, on this International Women’s Day we remember Catherine Walker, missionary, teacher, prayer warrior and friend.
Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia.